New Year’s Revelations Dec 31, 2017

Luke 2: 22-40

-Carla Wilks

We will begin this time of review and reflection going through a few steps as we take some time to give thanks for this year and move ahead to next year. During each step, a few questions to ponder will be on the screen. You can talk about this with someone near you in the pew, or on your own. During this time of reflecting back, we want to review the year with a holy perspective… with wisdom, grace and faith. So take some deep breaths in………. and out. And prepare yourself to step back and see your life as God sees it, the deeper self behind the activity.
Take some time now to remember with gratitude something that went well for you this year, or something that you are thankful for, a happy event, a life-giving moment, a new thing that you learned that has served you well this year, courage that you mustered, love and support that you received.
Now spend some time remembering something that challenged you this year. Something that did not go as planned, a difficult event or interaction, perhaps your worst moment. Think about the lessons you learned or people or activities you have left behind.
As you look forward to the new year think about something that you need as you move into the new year. Is there something that you want to leave behind in 2017? Is there something new that you’d like to focus on in 2018? What is God calling you to do in 2018?
Invite people to share…
In today’s reading, we hear one of the very few mentions of Jesus’ childhood. We hear a lot about his birth and then about his adult life, but not a whole lot in between. In this reading, Mary and Joseph present Jesus as a baby to the temple, which is a normal expectation and practise in their day after they have a baby. What was unexpected though was the response that they received from Simeon and Anna. Simeon and Anna have waited for decades for the anointed one, fasting and praying for insight to recognize God’s beloved. When the baby Jesus enters the temple, carried by his parents, they see what everyone else misses, God’s vision incarnate in a little baby. No doubt many others see the parents and their child, but to them he was just another baby coming to be blessed by the temple priests. But Simeon and Anna see more than meets the eye. Their active waiting has given them a deeper vision; their practices of prayerful expectation help them to recognize the Messiah in their midst. They see a child clothed in garments of salvation and they see God in a little baby.
As we head in to 2018, aware of what we want to leave behind in 2017 and what we want to take forward into 2018, let us try to be like Anna and Simeon, seeing God in the unexpected places and the unexpected people. Having a deeper vision to see the light of Christ in the places we go and the people we meet.
The end of the year is often a time that we make New Year’s Resolutions. We think about the hopes that we have for the new year, what we want to do differently, where we want our focus to be, making some new goals. As we do this lets also try to make some new year’s revelations, exploring how God might be working through us, revealing how we might be the hands and feet of Jesus in our communities and through our connections throughout 2018. What is a way that we can bring the light into some dark places this coming year?
To close I want to share a piece written by Joyce Rupp, a reflection on approaching the new year with openness and expectation.

I arise with amazement at the presence of the Holy.
I arise with gratitude for life.
I arise with hope that all shall be well.
I arise with courage to meet what will be difficult.
I arise with conviction to do what is life-giving.
I arise with eyes ever alert for beauty.
I arise with openness to greater truth.
I arise with desire for continued transformation.
I arise with compassion for the hurting ones in the cosmos.
I arise with grief still settled in my spirit.
I arise with eagerness to write with depth and quality.
I arise with a sense of kinship with all whom I live.
I arise with respect as others mentor and deepen my vision.
I arise with determination to make good choices in using my time.
I arise with willingness to help those who will need my care.
I arise with hesitation as I think about pain that may come.
I arise with longing for ever greater inner freedom.
I arise with happiness, knowing I am invited to live life fully.
I arise with love for the Holy One, my Intimate Companion.
Compassionate Companion and Faithful Friend,
Thank you for the opportunity to walk into another year of life. Help me to be faithful, to be generous, to be yours.